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by Marian Amaka Odenigbo & Wanessa Marques Silva

Participants responding to the nutrition related questions during the round of quiz.
On 23 May 2017, the IFAD's Nutrition Team organized a breakout session on mainstreaming nutrition in IFAD financed projects. This dedicated session on nutrition took place during the IFAD’s East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Implementation Workshop (RIW) in Kampala, Uganda. The RIW presented a great opportunity to reach out and engage with project teams, country office colleagues and other stakeholders on the conversations on nutrition mainstreaming in IFAD operations. The nutrition session was jointly planned with the Rome based Agencies (RBAs) colleagues, and built on several consultative discussions to accelerate nutrition awareness in operations at country level.

Raising awareness on nutrition

In setting the scene on nutrition awareness and sensitization, participants had a round of virtual quiz to stimulate the discussion on nutrition mainstreaming. Analysis of the quiz exercise showed that most of the participants are aware of the implications of malnutrition to the wellbeing of people and national economy. Interestingly, this exercise exposed that the relation between gender and nutrition is still blurry to many respondents. This is a subject that should be explored further especially during workshops and trainings on nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

Experiences on nutrition mainstreaming

Good practices on nutrition mainstreaming within IFAD-funded operations were presented. Nutrition focal points from IFAD funded projects in Burundi (Aloïs Hakizimana), Malawi (Manuel Mang'anya), Mozambique (Jeronimo Francisco) and Zambia (Martin Lyiwalii) shared their respective country experiences, which consisted of various innovative nutrition activities and different approaches for mainstreaming nutrition. The varied approaches include:
  • Access to microcredit through women groups; 
  • Adoption of local and traditional food to tackle malnutrition; 
  • Promotion of diversified food production and consumption; 
  • Training local promoters on nutrition, food preparation demonstration with active participation of the beneficiaries; 
  • Radio messages, songs and farmers hotline on good nutrition and improved family diet along with income generation of small producers. 
Taking advantage of the presence of significant members of the IFAD-funded projects teams during this session, the key messages of the ESA study: “Mapping of Nutrition-Sensitive Interventions in East and Southern Africa" was disseminated to participants. This study provided insights on the variety of nutrition-sensitive actions being implemented in ESA's portfolio and identified gaps and opportunities for effective nutrition mainstreaming.

Dissemination of FAO Toolkits on nutrition-sensitive agriculture

This session provided the space to learn and disseminate the available resources for agriculture-nutrition projects. Militezegga Mustapha, a colleague from FAO made a presentation that illustrated the need for combined efforts of agriculture, social protection, nutrition education and adequate care practices. She stressed that nutrition is linked to the entire food system including: 1) food production, 2) food handling, storage, 3) food trade and marketing and 4) consumer demand, food preparation and preferences. FAO Toolkit and eLearning modules for nutrition-sensitive programming were discussed and the hard copies of resource materials were distributed to participants. 

RBAs collaboration for nutrition at country level

Tantely Randrianasolo, M&E Manager, and Maria Fernanda Arraes De Souza, Programme Coordinator, from Madagascar and Mozambique, respectively, shared their experiences of successful RBAs collaboration on integrating nutrition in agriculture and rural development investments. Tantely narrated how the joint efforts in AINA programme in Madagascar implemented in collaboration with FAO, WFP and IFAD have addressed various elements of the integrated pathway to nutrition (awareness raising, training, tools, storage facilities, scaling up of experiences). The collaboration has brought significant improvements in dietary intake as well as physical infrastructure and social issues such as school attendance.

On the other hand, Arraes De Souza shared the Mozambique experiences where additional nutrition components were incorporated to the already ongoing projects. The RBAs collaboration in Mozambique is using different entry points i.e. nutrition awareness with leaders, training with women groups in complementing each other’s interventions for optimization of nutrition outcomes.

Furthermore, this forum provided the opportunity to reach out to the project team on the other RBAs collaboration initiatives on nutrition, such as the Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chains (NSVC) and the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Resource Frameworks.

Indeed, this dedicated breakout session was well appreciated by participants and was followed up by several group and bilateral conversations on specific needs and way forward to accelerate nutrition mainstreaming at project and country levels. This type of outreach is essential to increase awareness and engage with project teams on nutrition in IFAD operations.


By Tiffany Minjauw

©Tiffany Minjauw 

The International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD) East and Southern Africa Division (ESA) , the IFAD funded Smallholder Market-led Project (SMLP), and the Microfinance Unit (MFU) in Swaziland jointly organised and facilitated a sub-regional monitoring and evaluation (M&E) workshop for ongoing IFAD funded projects in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, and Swaziland.

The workshop brought together staff (mainly M&E officers and Knowledge Management officers) from the Project Implementation Units. The objective of this workshop was to strengthen the planning, monitoring, evaluation and knowledge management functions of IFAD operations in the five countries by strengthening the technical understanding of the key concepts and by sharing experiences (good practices and challenges).

Held in Manzini from the 17-19 May 2017, the workshop provided theoretical and conceptual guidance, emphasizing real country level good practices. Clarifications were provided on the different monitoring and assessment mechanisms in place for different sources of funding, namely the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
©Tiffany Minjauw 

The interactive nature of the workshop generated rich discussions and insights into methods to overcome challenges and achieve effective monitoring and evaluation.

By the end of the workshop, the 30 participants had a better understanding of the use of the Log Frame, of the measurement of outputs and impacts, and of the principles of the Results and Impact Management System (RIMS) and how to link it to the project M&E system.

"This is the first time that we have had specific training on M&E and K&M. Consultants provide support during implementation missions but it is never as in-depth as what we experienced here" - Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) in Malawi.

"We like that IFAD, unlike many international organisations, is paying great attention to M&E. We hope that more workshops like this one will be organised periodically in the future" - Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP) in Lesotho.

Connecting with Nature: Should we eat insects?

Posted by Francesca Aloisio Monday, June 5, 2017 0 comments

By Christopher Neglia

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is Connecting with Nature. In this context, entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, is a topic that bears consideration, owing to its prospects for food and nutrition security.

Entomophagy is well documented in history, and at one time it was extremely widespread. The first reference to entomophagy in Europe was in Greece, when eating cicadas was considered a delicacy. Aristotle wrote in his Historia Animalium “The larva of the cicada on attaining full size in the ground becomes a nymph; then it tastes best, before the husk is broken.”

For centuries, people have consumed insects. From beetles, to caterpillars, locusts, grasshoppers, termites and dragonflies. Which raises the question: why is the notion of eating insects so taboo in Westernized societies? People in most Western countries have formed a moral judgement against eating insects, which it can be said is perceived with disgust. But it is important to realise that the origins of disgust are rooted in culture. Culture, under the influence of environment, history, community structure and politico-economic systems, define the rules on what is edible and what is not (Mela, 1999).

A worldwide inventory conducted by Wagenheim University found there are about 1,900 edible insect species, and insects form a large part of everyday diets for more than two billion people around the world. For example, red maguey worms, are a highly nutritious variety of caterpillar considered a delicacy by Mexican farmers. They are generally eaten deep fried or braised, seasoned with spicy sauce and served in a tortilla (Ramos Elorduey et al., 2007). In Cambodia, a species of tarantula, Haplopelma albostriatum, is typically served fried and sold in street stalls (Yen, Hanboonsong and van Huis, 2013). This goes to show that in most countries, insect consumption is a matter of choice, not necessity, and insects are a part of local culture.

From a nutritional perspective, insects represent a huge untapped source of protein, energy rich fat, fiber and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Edible insects are rich sources of iron and their inclusion in daily diets could improve iron status and help prevent anaemia in developing countries. WHO has flagged iron deficiency as the world’s most common and widespread nutritional disorder (Anaemia is a preventable deficiency but contributes to 20 percent of all maternal deaths).

Gathering and harvesting insects can offer unique employment and income-earning opportunities in developing countries, particularly for the rural poor. In many cases, insect cultivation can serve as a livelihood diversification strategy. For example, silkworms and bees can be harvested for food and fiber. In Thailand, middlemen buy insects from farmers to sell as food to wholesale buyers, who then distribute the products to street vendors and retailers.

When you add up all the benefits, it becomes mystifying why insects don’t make up an integral part of our diets. Perhaps it is time to reconsider our culinary customs and try to reconnect with this abundant, yet neglected, food source.